APSIA held its second annual Diversity Forum workshop for advisors on April 27, 2018 at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. Seventeen people from 13 organizations across Texas gathered to learn about how their students can engage in the field of international affairs.

The day began with a conversation with APSIA alumni about their experiences and the breadth of opportunities available in the field. Moderated by Julie Kavanagh, US Department of State Diplomat in Residence for Texas, the discussion featured remarks by Harvard Kennedy School alumna Oni Blair, Executive Director of LINK Houston, and Miguel Carrillo, Intelligence Risk Analyst with the Bayan Risk Group and an alumnus of the University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy.

Oni and Miguel agreed that it is “critical to expose students to all that’s possible” by providing examples of the paths available and helping them build networks. They stressed that students need critical thinking skills, the ability to understand data, and the capacity to write and communicate clearly.

Both also highlighted opportunities to participate in international affairs locally – on campus and across the state.

While fewer local jobs may have ‘international affairs’ in the title, Oni said, there are many ways to use the skills an international affairs degree provides in Texas and around the world. At the same time, students need the adaptability to be with people whose experiences are different from their own. So, encourage students to leave their comfort zone, Miguel suggested.

Mark Welsh, dean of the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, then welcomed everyone on behalf of the school. He stressed the importance of diverse voices in making better foreign policy decisions and offered the resources of the Bush School to help participants spread this message.

Next, Lindsay Calvert, Lead of the Institute for International Education Generation Study Abroad initiative, opened a conversation about common challenges among advisors. She encouraged attendees to share best practices and solutions.

Participants discussed common factors like fear and finances, which can interfere with students’ ability to study abroad, take internships, and engage on international issues. Many young people also simply do not know the field exists. Several participants discussed the need to engage parents early in the process and strategized about ways to do so effectively.

Then, the Bush School’s Silva Hamie, Lecturer in International Affairs, chatted with Frank Ashley, the School’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Students who exhibit a call to service, have a desire to tackle big challenges, and possess a curiosity about why things happen may be great candidates for the field, Silva said. She added that students need to understand the context of issues which effect their everyday lives and the larger world around them.

When asked how to cultivate an ideal student for the field, she suggested linking local issues to global ones. For example, she used local recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey to demonstrate the stages of global disaster recovery. At the same time, she worked to cultivate a sense of empathy for refugees by talking with students about their own experiences being an outsider.

To close out the day, Ja’net DeFlorimonte, Director of Admissions for the MSFS Program at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Brittani McClendon, Associate Director of Graduate Enrollment at the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and Kathryn Meyer, Director of Admissions for the Bush School gave advice to share with students about graduate school.

Panelists stated that graduate school provides specialized knowledge and a network which students may not be able to develop on their own. They agreed that work experience before a master’s program helps students discern among the many options available. The conversation also explored different ways to pay for graduate school.

Through this workshop and other Diversity Forum programs, APSIA seeks to inspire students and young professionals to seek out the field of international affairs and provide tools to help them do so.

The 2018 Diversity Forum series is made possible by

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